Medicine, Ethics, and Health Policy


Medicine, Ethics, and Health Policy will include courses that explore policy issues in end of life care by considering personal and societal ethical issues, help students to develop scientific, clinical, and social perspectives on the issue of addiction and substance abuse disorders, and help students discern the underlying principles on which the U.S. healthcare system are based and to describe current principles and mechanisms of healthcare finance, healthcare delivery, and healthcare policy, and discuss how they affect health systems performance and health outcomes, including health inequities.


Science and Society 190FS - U.S. Health Systems and Policy (SS)

Kathryn Andolsek
Don Bradley

Dr. Kathryn Andolsek, Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health

Dr. Don Bradley, Consulting Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

The U.S. health system is undergoing a tumultuous transformation amid multiple public health crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic, climate change, and pervasive health inequities.

The goals of this course are to understand:

  1. Whether we legitimately have a national “health system” or a disparate collection of autonomous and sometimes random parts
  2. If the current health system is the best way to optimize health
  3. the key principles on which the U.S. health system was established,
  4. how health systems function today, and
  5. how to help improve the work  of health systems in the future.

Students will review historical milestones and readings.  They will discern with fellow students and faculty the underlying principles on which the U.S. healthcare system (or its components) are based. They will describe current principles and mechanisms of healthcare finance, healthcare delivery, and healthcare policy, and discuss how they affect health systems performance and health outcomes, including  health inequities.

In addition, students will learn and utilize key quality improvement skills and methodologies, systems-based healthcare approaches, behavior change theories and methodologies, project management, and skills to enhance team function and negotiation. External state and local community leaders will provide real world perspectives about their sectors’ role in, and impact on the health system. 

Psychology 197FS — Addiction and Substance Abuse (NS, SS, EI)

Amir Rezvani

Amir Rezvani, Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

The major goal of the course is to develop scientific, clinical as well as social perspectives on the issue of addiction and substance abuse.  Students will be able to develop a scientific perspective on the etiology of alcoholism. This course will cover neurobiology of addiction particularly alcoholism.  Students will be presented with the brain disease concept of addiction, co-morbidity of addiction with other mental illness, several models of addiction and appropriate intervention and treatment strategies relevant to each model.  As part of their activities, students will also visit Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) in Durham, a unique therapeutic community which is based on principles of self-help and will get to interact with recovering drug addicts and interview them. Furthermore, students will be given the opportunity to hear from several recovering drug addicts coming from different socio-economic and genetic backgrounds.  Furthermore, a family with a child affected with fetal alcohol syndrome will present their daily challenges to students. Students will also get involved in self-designed individual and group projects to better understand the nature of drug addiction and the process of behavioral changes.

Education 190FS - Leadership in Healthcare (SS, CCI, EI)

Devdutta Sangvai

Dr. Devdutta Sangvai, Professor in Family Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Professor in the Program in Education

Do you see yourself as a future leader in healthcare? Maybe as a physician executive? Corporate healthcare CEO? Perhaps a public health advocate? Or a leader in any of the myriad other local and global settings in which leadership so crucial. If your answer is “yes", then this class is right for you!

While much of being a successful leader comes with experience and time, there are fundamental elements that can be taught and explored, especially early in one’s career. Throughout the semester, students will learn about leadership, examine their own leadership traits, and understand the types of leaders that inspire them. We will explore historical examples where leadership was critical to success, and also explore missed opportunities to make a difference. Using case studies and simulation, we will understand how to lead and when to follow. We will draw on the experience of other industries and make a case for healthcare.

Specific objectives include:

  • Understand the imperative for leadership in healthcare
  • Describe key leadership styles and when to apply each
  • Explore the challenges and opportunities for leaders during good times and bad
  • Discuss how leadership is about managing people and processes
  • Recognize the importance of leading for change
  • Identify your own leadership strengths and weaknesses
  • Model leadership via simulation exercise(s) and case studies

Linguistics 113FS/African & African American Studies 117FS/Education 117FS - Race and Language (CCI, EI)

Aaron Colston

Aaron Colston, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Linguistics

We will examine the relationship between race and language by interrogating texts in medical ethics, gleaning from them wider lessons for navigating prior controversies at the juncture of racial and social difference and medicine (for instance, phrenology and eugenics). We will also examine features of medical & scientific practice that overlap with the study of language, such as contract, disclosure, survey design and policymaking and how the medical profession and medical practice works to correct past mistakes in interactions with different communities of race.